Chicken behavior with humans, what is normal?

If you’re considering raising chickens it is important to know what behaviors to expect from these animals. Certain behaviors that chickens do in front of you have meaning behind them. So, what are some examples of chicken behavior with humans? What is normal? This article explores this topic.

How a chicken acts around you can help you understand how the bird feels about you. It may see you as the head of the flock or as a threat, if it preens in front of you then it is comfortable around you, if it shows affection towards you, then it likes you. If it chases you, it sees you as a threat

Chicken behavior with humans, what is normal?

Lack of trust:

Humans are much larger than chickens, this makes chickens hyper-aware of us as they see us as possible predators. They will likely be afraid of us at first, especially if you make fast movements around the bird or chase it.

You can build trust with the bird by walking slowly and calmly around it, avoid running in their presence, or making quick movements around it 


Chickens are social creatures, they live together in flocks. A flock usually consists of a number of chickens and only one rooster. If there is more than one rooster in the flock, the roosters will fight each other to determine who is superior.

When humans come into the picture, the birds (both hens and roosters) see us as either the head of the flock and act friendly towards us or as a threat to the flock and become aggressive towards us.

The fear of a threat is why roosters and chickens can sometimes attack humans for no good reason


Chickens see humans as a source of food. They notice us feeding them when we throw food on the floor or hand-feed them, this makes them more relaxed and friendly towards us.

These birds will stop being scared of you as soon as they see that you are not a predator and are offering food. Foods that chickens eat can include regular chicken feed or treats like cracked corn as well as grubbies and mealworms 


Not all chickens will be affectionate towards humans, but some will. One, of many, factors that affect whether a chicken will be affectionate and friendly towards you is its breed.

Some chicken breeds are simply more affectionate than others, Barred Rock Chickens are generally a very loving and friendly breed of chicken. They will be friendly even if you don’t offer them food.


Preening is how chickens clean themselves. Preening is one way that these birds groom themselves. If a chicken decides to preen in front of you, know that it feels comfortable with you.

Preening requires the bird to lower its guard so it can focus on itself, if a chicken lowers its guard in front of you, this means that it doesn’t see you as a threat

Do chickens like to be petted? 

Chickens like to be petted, these animals like to be given attention and affection especially by humans, petting is one way that you can give attention and affection to chickens.

That being said, it is important to know exactly how to pet a chicken so that it feels calm and relaxed, here is how to pet the chicken: 

  1. Start off in a neutral position, crouch down and fold your legs so that you seem smaller and less intimidating to the bird
  2. Get the bird to come to you by leaving some food out in front of you, the chicken will become interested and start to come feed close to you. Try to offer food that is not the birds normal feed, offer treats
  3. When the bird is comfortable with the above steps, initiate physical touch by letting the bird eat out of your hand. This further breaks down any fears that the chicken may have about being around you. This step helps the bird understand that you will not be aggressive towards it
  4. Once the chicken is comfortable around you, you can slowly start petting it on its back. Start off by petting the bird from an arm’s-lengths away, this is more comfortable for the chicken. Make slow smooth movements along the chickens back and be soft when you touch it. You can also feed it while doing this. Make sure that the chicken sees you reaching out to touch it before you touch it

Note: When you’re trying to pet a chicken, do not make any sudden movements and do not grab the chicken by its legs or its wings.

Grabbing the animal here makes it feel as though it cannot escape, it will start to feel anxious and begin to struggle. Both you and the chicken can become injured as it struggles

Do chickens feel sad when you take their eggs? 

One of the main reasons chickens and humans interact has to do with humans taking the chicken’s eggs.

To us, eggs are a source of food, eggs can also become chicks if we raise them to be. Chicken see egg-laying as something instinctual like scratching, it’s just something that they do

Thus, if you take a chicken’s eggs it will not realize it, in fact, it leaves its egg once the egg is laid. Chickens only tend to chicks once they are born.

Brooding chickens do tend to their eggs as these birds have instincts that make them sit and hatch eggs, but even these birds are not bothered if you take their eggs away.

How do chickens see humans? 

Chickens are quite intelligent, more intelligent than many of us give them credit for. These animals are able to recognize up to a hundred human faces.

They will be scared of you at first but as soon as you give them food they will let their guard down and will not see you as a predator anymore but rather as someone they can trust.


In conclusion, chickens may display certain behaviors when humans are around, this tells you how they feel about you.

These behaviors include preening, seeing you as a leader or threat to the flock, seeing you as a source of food, and giving you affection depending on how they feel about you.

These animals like to be petted but you need to do this in the right way

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Can I shoot a hawk attacking my chickens?, What do chickens do all day? all you need to know, Do chickens like mirrors? all you need to know, Why do chickens chase you? all you need to know

Chicken behavior with humans, what is normal?
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